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Whonix Has Bad Forum Categories

To Whonix Admins…

I think the current forum categories aren’t that great… “General Discussion”, “Website Bugs”, “Offtopic”

In many forums a label just like “General Discussion” is used for the catchall off-topic category.

Having “General Discussion” and “Offtopic” is confusing and will funnel most people back into “General Discussion” no matter what.

Here is an improvment I’d recommend for the forum categories…

  • Whonix OS
  • Whonix Website
  • General Discussion

This way it keeps it more tight and relevent in the “Whonix OS” category, and the “General Discussion” category encourages people to go there more often when their topic isn’t tight to the Whonix OS software.

And the Whonix website is another fundamental piece of the Whonix project infrastructure. Of course bugs are an important topic for that, but recommendations for the website should probably go in the same category (like this post I’m making now). So I think a “Whonix Website” category is good.

At some point, a “Whonix Organization” category will also probably become relevant to have (maybe even now), in order to discuss issues like administration, legal affairs, funding, personnel, publicity, etc, for the project.

Right now… without touching the underlying categories themselves, I recommend just changing the forum category labels to the following…

  • General Discussion --> Whonix OS
  • Website Bugs --> Whonix Website
  • Offtopic --> General Discussion

And maybe add in the “Whonix Organization” category for any organizational or project management topics of discussion. Like…

  • Whonix OS
  • Whonix Organization
  • Whonix Website
  • General Discussion

Much cleaner, optimal, and non-confusing in my opinion.

What do you guys think?

Yeah, forum categories are really non-ideal.

Can you suggest descriptions for those categories as well? (The subtext below the category name.)

I guess also a development sub forum would make sense. Lots of activity here lately.

What about one for bugs and one for feature requests?

I’d like to have one real offtopic forum as well, where thinks like 911 may be discussed as well.

[quote=“Patrick, post:2, topic:100”]Can you suggest descriptions for those categories as well? (The subtext below the category name.)

I guess also a development sub forum would make sense. Lots of activity here lately.[/quote]

“This is a space to discuss topics related to developing Whonix”

Diving into many categories is not quite good because if you have only one category you may see all most popular threads at the top. While with many categories you miss this pleasant possibility. So don’t follow the examples of bad forums.

I agree with the renaming of the current boards. (I also commented about this in the “off topic girls/movies” thread).

@anonuser
I agree that we shouldn’t have more forums than necessary. Right now, it would just be a renaming.

The biggest issues with naming & categorizing the boards is to achieve CLEAR CUT & USEFUL TOPICAL BOUNDARIES between them that avoid confusion when people are using them, so that they make simple sense for grouping like topics.

If it is often NOT OBVIOUS where a topic should go, and takes some thinking on the posters part, then the categories will become convoluted, under-utilized, and mish-mashed (as it seems to be occuring now).

And… We want to define the sub-forums in a way that adds value and doesn’t leave any of them barren, empty and useless.

I think seperating “Off-Topic” outside of “General Discussion” is a mistake.

This entire project/website is primarily dedicated to WHONIX.

So the primary forum topics/categories should be Whonix specific, since that’s what we’re all primarily here for. AND… The names of those sub-forums should reflect that.

That’s why having “Off-Topic” as well as “General Discussion” doesn’t work well.

Those terms are both inviting the same thing and you have to stop and scratch your head about where to post something that isn’t tightly focused on the Whonix OS software.

Rhetorical as a user… “I want to talk about anonimity issues that I face when using software like Whonix, should I use “General Discussion” or “Off-Topic”?”

And it will be a natural response for many people to conclude the following answer…

“General Discussion says “general”, has a lot more activity going on, and it seems/feels like the “catch all” category like in other forums, so I guess I willl just go make my post there.”

I think “General Discussion” should encompass the concept of “Off-Topic” discussions so that it can act as an effective “catch all” category that most people will naturally gravitate to anyway.

Then, make the Whonix specific categories really reflect that more tightly, so that meaningful Whonix specific business can be reguarly done in those without a lot of general concept computer/anonimity/etc stuff.

Even putting “Whonix” in the label for Whonix specific sub-forums is important I think.

Otherwise, a general/off-topc catch all category may never catch on with people, and they’ll always feel compelled to just use the Whonix focused sub-forum for their general semi-related thoughts.

Keeping the number of sub-forums to a small number, where the categories really add value and get used a lot is key.

I do think a “Whonix Development” sub-forum would be justified and worthwhile, as it is a primary fuction of the Whonix organization and has a different audience of interest than simple end users.

I see a bit of an issue with making “bug” specific sub-forums. People will go to the forums anyway to get support for their issues. And their issues might not always be “bugs”. Like, for example, if the instructions or proceedures inside a Whonix application aren’t clear, and a person wants to make a post about that, is that really a “bug”? For confusion, overlapping, and cross-forum management sake, I’d just create a more broad topical category that any type of Whonix “bug”, “issue”, “request”, “support”, “recommendation”, “problem”, “question”, “instruction”, “help”, “how to”, etc, can go under. And, that way, people using the forums don’t have to painfully think so much about how their issue exactly matches up with sub-forum category labels.

So at this point, I’d recommend the following 5 sub-forums and labels, with short, concise, to the point descriptions…

  • Whonix Support: User support for the Whonix operating system.

  • Whonix Development: Hacking on the Whonix software and code.

  • Whonix Website: Issues and improvements with the Whonix website.

  • Whonix Organization: Building up the organization and success of the Whonix project.

  • General Discussion: Any other topics of interest under the sun (within the law and common sense).

.

greenROOT, I agree and implemented your suggestions. Please check if the forum categories now look better or if any issues have not been addressed yet.

A bug forum would indeed only make sense if threads were manually moved there. And removed later when the bug is fixed. Probably not worth the effort.

Another idea to include bugs would be adding a link to:
https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/issues?labels=bug&page=1&state=open

And for feature requests add a link to:
https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/issues?labels=enhancement&page=1&state=open

(So we would have a sub forum called “feature requests” which would redirect to Whonix github issues labeled as feature requests.)

(Bridging different pages and communities is difficult [github, forum, mailing list] as I wrote in my blog post Future Goals for Whonix’s Website but that is an issue any project has to live with.)

Heeey looking good! Overall looks pretty good.

I think the more specific general category “General Tor and Anonymity Talk” with an “Off-Topic” category works good. Nice idea.

Only very minor tweaks I would do. Nothing major or necessary at this point though.

The spelling of the “Offtopic” is poor. First, it is not an actual word spelled that way. Second, the double-f and t butted up together, “fft”, just makes it look a bit jumbled and hard to read without a slight brain twister occuring. I’d recommend either using “Off-Topic” or “Off Topic”.

Next would be the descriptions for the “Offtopic” and “General Tor and Anonymity Talk” sub-forums…

First, when these descriptions go beyond a single line, I think it makes people more apt to simply skip them and not read them. I even skipped them myself for a while because I didn’t want to read multi-line sentences in order to just choose and continue on to a sub-forum. Keeping sub-forum descriptions to one single line will help a higher percentage of people actually read and pay better attention to what each sub-forum is for. Short. Punchy. One line. …is best, I think.

Second, the logic of the description might have some unwanted restrictive effects. In the General Tor and Anonymity Talk" category, the qualification “independently from Whonix” is added. The statement of this qualification might make people think that they are not to discuss Tor and Anonymity topics involving Whonix within this sub-forum.

Using better off-topic wording now.

The two line description caused by “Feel free to discuss anything here within the limits of law and common sense.” is just a convenient way to tell the forum rules without needing a separate forum rules announcement. I guess at least more are reading it than a separate forum rules topic. (And I believe having forum rules in full would be a bad idea, since it can lead to people bickering about how to interpret and apply rules.)

Second, the logic of the description might have some unwanted restrictive effects
This is a wanted effect. Whonix specific anonymity questions are best discussed in the Whonix specific forums. I try to closely monitor the Whonix specific forums but I am not sure I can keep up with monitoring the off-topic forum.
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